Does Cannabis Increase Creativity?
Does cannabis increase creativity? Many people would love to know the answer to this question, both those that smoke and those that don’t. Some people consume cannabis to relax, to sleep or increase quality of sleep, as a potent pain relief. On the other hand, many people consume cannabis for a more uplifting and lucid effect, looking for a recreational effect in sativa strains.
Apart from the strain, many other factors can influence the final effect of the product; crop conditions, stress, when you harvest, how long you dry it and how it’s cured etc. As well as all of those things you also need to take into account the effects provided by the combination of cannabinoids found in certain strains. Today we’re going to talk about the growing link between cannabis and creativity or brain stimulation that seems to be caused by cannabis.
You can find many different studies on the subject of cannabis and creativity, although depending on who’s behind the study (or rather who’s financing it) the results can vary from one result to the complete opposite. One of the oldest studies that we’ve been able to find was done in 2005, where mice where used for the experiment. Two groups of mice were made; one group that was established as the control group and another group that was injected with a potent synthetic cannabinoid called HU210.
The first group of rats had just one cannabinoid injection to see the long-term results it might have, whereas the second group had two injections a day for two groups. An autopsy done on the rats from the second group showed that the rats’ brains had developed new neurons that had adapted and integrated perfectly with the rest of their hippocampus.
Another experiment was done in which the rats weren’t fed for 48 hours, and the cannabinoid seems to reduce stress and anxiety in those rats. The rats also showed more confidence and trust when it came to eating in unfamiliar places compared to the other rats that hadn’t ingested any cannabinoids. This kind of behavior might be due to the fact that having reduced anxiety levels thanks to the cannabinoids the mice were able to deal with the situation better. The cannabinoid mice also did better in the swimming and climbing tests, solving problems in a much more relaxed and less anxious way than the mice that didn’t receive cannabinoids. This might be due to the antidepressant effect that the synthetic cannabinoid HU210 has. According to the team involved in the study, any mood changes that happen to a living being are reflected in the hippocampus, which is also where learning, cognitive and memory processes happen, as well as stress regulation.
This neurogenesis observed through cannabis use is that only time it’s ever happened with drugs; in a similar study, many different drugs were tested in search of other cases of neurogenesis and cocaine, alcohol, opiates and nicotine showed a completely different effect, in fact killing and reducing brain cells. If it were possible and ethical to do a similar study on actual people many interesting things would be discovered, especially in as far as treatment for depression and anxiety, although the study states that it is most definitely not the same to smoke marijuana rather than ingest cannabinoids in some other way.
Another more recent study done in Holland gives almost an entirely opposite result. Psychologists Lorena Colzato and Mikael Kowal did an experiment about the relationship between cannabis and creative thinking with three groups of 18 people. The first group received 22mg dosages, the second group received 5.5mg dosages and the third group received a placebo. After each dosage the groups were asked to perform certain cognitive tests; creative thinking tests or fast problem solving was involved.
The results are the exact opposite when compared to the first study that we were talking about; the group that did the best was the group that had the least amount of cannabinoids, the 5.5mg group’s results were similar to those that had taken the placebo, and the group that had consumed the most did the worst in the creative tests. The people who did the study also stated that they’re not sure what motivates creativity, which is closely related to dopamine, hormones that regulate stress, anxiety, pleasure and other things.
The third study we’re going to talk about might be able to shed more light on creativity and how it works from a chemical point of view. When dopamine is produced it kind of “floats” around the brain until the DAT (dopamine active transporter) picks the dopamine up and accumulates it all together so that it can act on the brain. This stimulation also has a “compensation” process, which is the same at that sensation of tranquility when you take a drag from cannabis or any other substance that calms your nerves when you’re stressed.
Apart from the DAT, the study also talks about the function of other enzymes, proteins and genes that are related to how dopamine acts. They’re also all related when it comes to the absence of the hormone, which can cause mental disorders like schizophrenia, ADHD and hyperactivity.
To summarize, two out of three studies find a strict relationship between dopamine and creativity, justifying the calmed state that consumers get. Even then, it’s possible that when it comes to cognitive convergent exercises, cannabis might not be your best ally but will greatly help with divergent activities.
Author: Fabio Inga
Translation: Ciara Murphy